The War in America's Heartland




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In modern history, the American people have become more mindful of the potential that warfare could actually happen in this country.  The concept of ground warfare occurring in one or many of our states is so alien to how Americans live and think that it causes a lot of anxiety to think of it happening.  The 911 tragedy added to those fears although they are not new.

In modern history, the American people have become more mindful of the potential that warfare could actually happen in this country.  The concept of ground warfare occurring in one or many of our states is so alien to how Americans live and think that it causes a lot of anxiety to think of it happening.  The 911 tragedy added to those fears although they are not new.  A number of years ago, a movie named "Red Dawn" imagined such a war in which American citizens had to become warriors in their own streets and parks.

But two huge conflicts have happened right here in our homeland.  The obvious one is the Revolutionary War.  But the Civil War is a conflict that ripped the unity of the nation apart.  The battles of the Civil War have become legendary and many of the battlefields where brave generals and civilian soldiers conducted ground combat against each other are now virtual shrines to the sacrifices both sides were prepared to make to fight for what they believed in.

Next to World War II, the Civil war may be the one ground conflict that has generated the most intense interest and study.  There is no question we get obsessed with knowing every detail of how both sides conducted their campaigns and in reliving how the important brattles of the Civil War affected the outcome.  


Like any great military ground conflict, the Civil War was a conflict that resulted in some amazing battles that changed the course of the war.  Battles such as the Battle of Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, The Battle of Stones River and The Battle of Shiloh are ground conflicts where tens of thousands of America's finest young men fought and died in bloody confrontations.  But of all of these battles, there may be no better example of a battle that changed the course of the Civil War than The Battle of Gettysburg.

There is no question that The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest ground battle of what was already a very bloody war.  But had it not been for the defeat the Union army delivered to the army of Robert E. Lee as it advanced northward, the outcome of the War Between the States might have turned out much differently.  Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had scored a decisive victory in the battle of Chancellorsville.  They were a powerful and crafty fighting force that had developed a skill for defeating opposing forces much larger than them in numbers.

Small wonder that when Lee and this impressive fighting force marched north, their goal of eventually taking Philadelphia was serious.  But when Lee met up with the Union army under the command of General George Meade, the tide would turn.  For three days, 165,000 men fought so viciously that they say the ground at Gettysburg was stained red from the death and injuries that were sustained.  But it was on the third day of the ground battle that Lee decided to stage a full frontal assault on Meade's forces at in a battle that became known as Pickett's Charge.  

The Confederate forces were soundly defeated in this one last effort to break the back of the Union's hold on Pennsylvania.  But more than just winning the battle, when Lee lost at Gettysburg, the Confederate war machine was broken as well.  This one battle turned the tide of the Civil War to the advantage of the Union.  When the Civil War finally came to its tragic end, the Union was restored although not without deep emotional and social wounds that in some ways continue to this day. 




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